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10 Best Aquarium Algae Scrubbers in 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks

Ed Malaker

using hygger Carbon Fiber 6 in 1 Aquarium Cleaning Tool Kit

When you set up an aquarium, algae will grow, especially if you have a heater installed in the tank and a UV light on for the recommended time. Your fish will also provide food for these organisms. Algae are not plants, even though they are green. They do not have leaves, stems, and roots. Their environment provides for all their needs.

But algae can create toxic water conditions, which is why you need to get an aquarium scrubber. We hope that these reviews will help you wade through the options to make an informed choice for your needs.

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
hygger Carbon Fiber 6 in 1 Aquarium Cleaning Tool hygger Carbon Fiber 6 in 1 Aquarium Cleaning Tool
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Telescoping handle
  • Durable
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Aqueon Aquarium Algae Cleaning Magnets Aqueon Aquarium Algae Cleaning Magnets
  • Hands-off use
  • For glass or acrylic tanks
  • Ease of use
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Neptonion Magnetic Aquarium Fish Tank Glass Algae Scraper Neptonion Magnetic Aquarium Fish Tank Glass Algae Scraper
  • Ergonomic handle
  • Value priced
  • Ease of use
  • API Extra-Long Algae Scraper API Extra-Long Algae Scraper
  • Affordably priced
  • Effective cleaning
  • Durable sponge
  • Tom Pet Products Multi-Tool Algae Scraper Tom Pet Products Multi-Tool Algae Scraper
  • Long handle
  • Useful attachments
  • Ergonomic handle
  • The 10 Best Aquarium Algae Scrubbers — Reviews 2021

    1. hygger Carbon Fiber 6 in 1 Aquarium Cleaning Tool – Best Overall

    hygger Carbon Fiber 6 in 1 Aquarium Cleaning Tool Kit

    Length: 44” L
    Material: Carbon fiber
    Aquarium type: Safe for freshwater and saltwater
    Attachments: Yes
    Ease of use: Intuitive

    The hygger Carbon Fiber 6 in 1 Aquarium Cleaning Tool is a versatile tool that can help you with several essential maintenance tasks that go beyond cleaning algae. That adds to its value immensely. It has a telescoping handle so it’s useful for most tanks. The attachments, including the angled sponge, are nothing short of brilliant for corners.

    It’s worth noting that there is a razor blade tool that you should only use on glass tanks. It will scratch acrylic ones. Fortunately, it’s anti-rust and made of carbon fiber, which gives it strength and durability as long as you don’t apply too much pressure with it. Its versatility also extends to cleaning algae in tubing and catching fish with its net.

    Pros
    • Multi-purpose tool
    • Telescoping handle
    • Durable
    • Excellent value

    Cons

    • Pricey
    • Caution needed with a razor blade tool


    2. Aqueon Aquarium Algae Cleaning Magnets

    Aqueon Aquarium Algae Cleaning Magnets

    Length: 5” L
    Material: Plastic, magnets
    Aquarium type: Freshwater or saltwater
    Attachments: N/A
    Ease of use: User-friendly

    The concept of the Aqueon Aquarium Algae Cleaning Magnets is a winner. It’s hands-off, which makes it both a useful and practical tool. Keeping your hands out of the water is the best way to approach tank maintenance. This tool is easy to use with smaller tanks. Larger tanks have thicker walls that can interfere with the magnet.

    The product comes with a 90-day warranty so you can make sure it works for you. We liked the weighted design that makes it easy to fish the pad out of the tank if it should fall off the magnet. It’s a versatile product that you can use on both glass and acrylic tanks.

    Pros
    • Hands-off use
    • For glass or acrylic tanks
    • Ease of use
    • Replaceable pads

    Cons

    • Tank size limit


    3. Neptonion Magnetic Aquarium Fish Tank Glass Algae Scraper

    Neptonion Magnetic Aquarium Fish Tank Glass Algae scrapers

    Length: 8”–4.84” L
    Material: Plastic
    Aquarium type: Freshwater, saltwater
    Attachments: N/A
    Ease of use: Simple

    The Neptonion Magnetic Aquarium Fish Tank Glass Algae Scraper is a riff on the magnet type, with three sizes available to handle different thicknesses. The magnet and the scraper are strong and durable. While it works well on glass, it’s too powerful and coarse for acrylic tanks. It’s worth noting that the manufacturer includes several warnings about it, including for individuals with pacemakers.

    The scrubber side is textured, which gives it a welcome cleaning boost. It’s easy to hold and maneuver. It can make quick work of cleaning your tank, with minimal hassles. We also liked the fact that it floats, in case it gets out of reach of the magnet. That makes it easier to retrieve.

    Pros
    • Ergonomic handle
    • Value priced
    • Ease of use
    • Three sizes available

    Cons

    • Magnet too strong for some users
    • Not suitable for acrylic tanks


    4. API Extra-Long Algae Scraper

    API Extra Long Algae Scraper for Glass Aquariums

    Length: 18” L
    Material: Plastic
    Aquarium type: Freshwater, saltwater
    Attachments: N/A
    Ease of use: Easy but messy

    The API Extra-Long Algae Scraper is an excellent choice if you don’t want to put your hands in the tank for cleaning. The length of the handle allows you to get into the corners and down into the gravel easily. It’s best suited for smaller aquariums instead of tall ones. The scrubber is suitable for glass only and will scratch acrylic surfaces.

    The sponge is double-sided and sufficiently coarse to make short work of algae. It’s almost like having two scrapers instead of one, adding to its value. It is quite absorbent and will retain a great deal of water. We suggest squeezing it before removing it from the tank to avoid making a mess.

    Pros
    • Affordably priced
    • Effective cleaning
    • Durable sponge

    Cons

    • Not long enough for larger tanks
    • Glass use only


    5. Tom Pet Products Multi-Tool Algae Scraper

    Tom Pet Products Multi-Tool Algae Scraper for Glass Aquariums

    Length: 22” L
    Material: Fiberglass
    Aquarium type: Freshwater, saltwater
    Attachments: Yes
    Ease of use: Easy

    The Tom Pet Products Multi-Tool Algae Scraper is a versatile product that includes both plastic and stainless steel scrapers to match the tool for the job. It also includes a shovel to remove debris and algae waste. The product is made to last with its fiberglass handle that is ergonomic and easy to use. It is suitable for glass tanks only, though.

    Also, it is more expensive than comparable products. Unfortunately, replacement parts aren’t available nor can you adjust the angles of the scrapers. However, it is easy to swap out the attachments. We only wish that it had a hook to hang it when not in use.

    Pros
    • Long handle
    • Useful attachments
    • Ergonomic handle

    Cons

    • Pricey
    • Glass tanks only


    6. SUNTRY Double-Sided Aquarium Scrubber

    SUNTRY Double-Sided Aquarium Scrubber

    Length: 6” and 8.85” L
    Material: Plastic
    Aquarium type: Freshwater, saltwater
    Attachments: Yes
    Ease of use: Easy

    The SUNTRY Double-Sided Aquarium Scrubber is a three-piece set that includes scrubbers for both glass and acrylic tanks. A third shorter one is a great way to clean ornaments and your filter. All three do a decent job at removing algae. Unfortunately, the handles aren’t as sturdy as we’d like. We could easily see them snapping if you use too much pressure.

    The sponges have enough texture to get into the nooks and crannies. You can easily get down below the gravel line with the longer handles.

    Pros
    • Usable on glass and acrylic
    • Affordable
    • Hole for hanging

    Cons

    • No replacement parts
    • Not as durable
    • Flimsy handle


    7. SLSON Aquarium Algae Scraper

    SLSON Aquarium Algae Scraper

    Length: 4” L
    Material: Plastic
    Aquarium type: Freshwater, saltwater
    Attachments: N/A
    Ease of use: Easy

    The SLSON Aquarium Algae Scraper does an excellent job of getting rid of algae, albeit in glass tanks only. The sponge is a decent size to clean with a minimal number of passes. It’s also coarse, so you’ll have to be careful not to use too much pressure. We won’t recommend using it on any painted ornaments or décor because it’d probably scratch them. It also makes it hard to get to the corners of your tank.

    On the positive side, the scrubber is value-priced. If it gets dirty, it’s not expensive to get another one. That’s a good thing because replacement parts aren’t available. It’s well-made, considering the price. As long as you clean it after every use, you’ll get your money’s worth out of it.

    Pros
    • Inexpensive
    • Well-made
    • Hanging hole at the top

    Cons

    • Glass tanks only
    • Abrasive


    8. Petacc Double-Sided Aquarium Scrubber

    Petacc Double-Sided Fish Tank Sponge Cleaning Brush

    Length: 7” L
    Material: Plastic
    Aquarium type: Freshwater, saltwater
    Attachments: N/A
    Ease of use: Easy for walls; hard for corners

    The Petacc Double-Sided Aquarium Scrubber looks like an ordinary dish sponge without the coarseness that you see in many comparable products. It is double-sided with rounded edges. It’s a decent size, but it’s a bit difficult to get into small areas and corners because of its bulk. At least, you can get the walls done quickly. We appreciate the fact that you can use it with either glass or acrylic tanks.

    The sponge is non-abrasive, but you’ll have to apply a bit of pressure to scrape tougher strains of algae. That made us concerned about whether the handle would break. There aren’t any replacement parts, so it’s a good thing that this is inexpensive.

    Pros
    • Glass and acrylic use
    • Hanging hook
    • Affordable

    Cons

    • Hard to clean corners
    • Flimsy design


    9. Evergreen Pet Supplies Aquarium Scrubber

    Algae Scrubber Aquarium Cleaner for Glass Walls

    Length: 25” L
    Material: Plastic polymer
    Aquarium type: Freshwater, saltwater
    Attachments: N/A
    Ease of use: Easy

    The Evergreen Pet Supplies Aquarium Scrubber comes in a four-pack of sponges designed for use on glass tanks only. The number and price make it an excellent value. The pads are thick and will last longer than comparable products. They’re also a decent size to get a good hold of them. We appreciate the fact that it is a U.S.A.-made product.

    The drawback is that you’re putting your hands into the tank, which is something that you should avoid. Oils from your skin or any kind of residue can contaminate the water and possibly harm your fish and plants. On the positive side, these tools do a great job of cleaning algae and hard-water stains.

    Pros
    • Value priced
    • Large size
    • Made in the U.S.A.

    Cons

    • For glass only
    • Hand cleaning


    10. API Algae Pad

    API Algae Pad for Acrylic Aquariums

    Length: 3” L
    Material: Plastic polymer
    Aquarium type: Freshwater, saltwater
    Attachments: N/A
    Ease of use: Easy

    The API Algae Pad is one that you can use safely on acrylic tanks. It’s a little small, but this adds to its versatility because you can use it on ornaments and other décor in your aquarium. Even though it’s non-abrasive, it does an excellent job cleaning tougher forms of algae without too much pressure.

    We like that the manufacturer color codes their scrubbers, given the issues of using the wrong one. The sponge works well on acrylic tanks, even if you’re hand cleaning the glass. However, it will stain after a few uses. Fortunately, it’s inexpensive to replace.

    Pros
    • Suitable for acrylic tanks
    • Versatile use
    • Works as described
    • Color-coded for glass and acrylic

    Cons

    • Hand cleaning
    • Not as sturdy


    Buyer’s Guide

    While you might think of this tool best for aesthetics, an aquarium scrubber serves practical purposes too. It helps ensure that light shines in the water to fulfill your fish’s and plant’s needs for UV radiation and vitamin D. It can cut down on an innocuous source of waste. Algal blooms occur when the conditions are right to provide an ideal setting for these organisms to grow. Algae will keep growing to a point where it can be too much for its environment. It will use up all the resources and eventually start dying off and contributing to the waste load of the tank. That can raise ammonia and nitrite levels to dangerous concentrations that can kill your fish and plants. This is something that happens regularly in the delta of the Mississippi River in the Gulf of Mexico.

    Getting rid of algae is imperative to creating a healthy environment for your fish. An aquarium scrubber removes it from the tank’s walls so you can siphon off the debris before it pollutes the water. Algae eaters and a plecostomus can only do so much if conditions favor the proliferation of these aquatic organisms. That’s when you need to haul out the big guns (a.k.a. algae scrubbing tools) to get rid of the stuff.

    The features of algae scrubbers to consider include:
    • Coarseness
    • Design
    • Attachments

    Coarseness

    The coarseness of the business end of a scrubber determines if you can use it for your tank. Acrylic is softer than glass and thus, can scratch easier. Small imperfections in the walls of the tank can create an environment for bacteria to collect and develop. That can spell disaster for the health of your tank’s inhabitants.

    A textured surface gives these products added cleaning power. However, it’s essential to wash them in hot water after every use. Debris within the fibers is a breeding ground for bacteria.

    Design

    We can group algae scrubbers based on whether they are hands-on or hands-off when it comes to whether you have to get in the water. Pads give you optimal handling. You can easily adjust the pressure, and you can move or shape the sponge to get into tight corners. This can make the process more thorough. You can also use them on your décor. The problem is that your hands can contaminate the water.

    Hands-off products use various ways to keep your fingers out of the tank. It’s a healthier way to clean inside your aquarium. The ones with handles provide excellent maneuverability. The problem is that their usefulness is limited with larger tanks. The longer the handle is, the more vulnerable it is to breaking, especially if you apply a great deal of pressure.

    Aquarium scrubbers come with either a stainless-steel scraper or a coarse sponge, typically double-sided. The former is easier to clean. However, you should dry it to avoid rusting. The sponges have a range of textures. Size is an essential consideration so you can get into the corners and under the gravel to get rid of that unsightly line of debris that often develops.

    Magnet products overcome this problem. However, there is another drawback to their usefulness. The thicker the glass, the stronger the magnet needs to be. That can make it risky to use around other electronic devices, including those in your tank. We think that these are more suitable for smaller aquariums, where you can balance the risks and benefits.

    actual use of Neptonion Magnetic Aquarium Fish Tank Glass Algae scrapers

    Attachments

    Many products that we reviewed have attachments that can make a product more versatile. It’s most helpful if they can improve the cleaning range of the scrubber with different coarseness levels, tools, or shapes. It’s better value if you can do more things with one purchase. If you’re debating between two products, these features can tip the scales toward one over the other.

    divider-fishbowl

    Final Thoughts

    Looking at the reviews on this list, the value of the hygger Carbon Fiber 6 in 1 Aquarium Cleaning Tool lies in its versatility. You can clean algae no matter where it exists, thanks to the attachments. You can also clean your tubing or rake up the substrate to support the nitrogen cycle.

    The Aqueon Aquarium Algae Cleaning Magnets offers a different take on hands-off maintenance that works well for smaller tanks. It’s small but mighty for getting the job done.

    Ed Malaker

    Ed Malaker is a veteran writer who has contributed to a wide range of blogs that cover tools, pets, guitars, fitness, and computer programming. When he’s not writing, Ed is usually performing DIY projects around the house or working in the garden. He’s also a musician and spends a lot of time helping people fix their guitars and composing music for independent films.